Final Post for Internship at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum

This internship has been very interesting, and I have learned a lot not only about aviation history but about Colorado history too. My typical duties at the museum were as a docent, but I was also able to perform some restoration, research, and exhibit maintenance work as well. This internship also nicely coincided with a summer course I am taking that is about Air Power Studies.

The majority of the time spent at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum was spent performing basic duties as a docent.  This entailed giving guests a basic orientation when they entered the museum, helping in the gift shop, and occasionally running the cash register if needed.  Sometimes docents were also called upon to clean and maintain some of the exhibits in the museum as well.  This provided the basic emphasis behind the day-to-day operation of a museum.

Once established at the museum, and once our knowledge base had grown to the point where we could be considered subject matter experts on certain displays or aircraft, we were called upon to act as tour guides.  I provided background information on the original airbase where the museum now stands, and I also provided detailed histories and information on the artifacts, exhibits, and aircraft within the museum.  Some groups required a lot of detail, while others required much less.  As a tour guide, I became attuned to the groups needs in order to better serve them on their visit.  The same can be said of the orientation speech for guests.  Some wanted more specific detail, while others really just wanted to get on with looking at aircraft.  A good guide could determine how much or how little information to express for the given situation.

I was able to do some research work on occasion while at the museum.  This is where I really felt I was contributing to the knowledge base.  For example, new placards were being created for each of the aircraft in the museum.  Since many of the aircraft did not have placards or the existing ones had incorrect information, I felt it was important that we inspect each airframe’s data plate as a starting point for the new information placards.  DJ Armstrong and myself crawled into each and every aircraft on the premises to personally inspect the data plate.  This was a hot and dirty job, but one we felt was well worth doing.  Once all that information had been collected, we researched the aircraft’s individual history in its records jacket to look for any other pertinent information.  We created an accurate profile for each individual airframe at the museum, and then we provided that information to the Curator for the purpose of creating new placards.  The placards were then created.

Occasionally, I also was able to assist the restoration crews with their work.  The hands-on experience allowed an up close and personal experience with the museum’s aircraft, and it provided a new appreciation for each plane.  The two most recent additions to the museum are fitting examples.  These are the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon or Viper.  Both of these aircraft were received by truck in pieces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.  They were re-assembled, sanded down, and then painted outdoors in just six weeks in order to get them ready for the open house.  The final touches included placing a full complement of air-to-air missiles and fuel tanks on each plane – the only planes at the museum to feature missiles.  Because the museum does not have the same loading equipment as the Air Force (yet), a contrived method had to be arranged in order to accomplish the task.  This was done as safely as possible, but it did feature an awful lot of muscle and elbow grease on the part of the restorers.  An easy task it was not, but an appreciation for what the Air Force’s armorers do was certainly gained.

While I worked at the museum, I was also enrolled in a Summer course at the university.  The subject of the course was Air Power Studies, so the surroundings at the museum provided plenty of motivation to stay on task.  A distinct line was drawn between my internship duties and those of my class, so there was no “double-dealing”, but the close proximity of the subjects of my Air Power Studies course, like the B-29 and Mig-15, provided plenty of impetus to keep on reading when not on the job.  The internship and my class nicely dovetailed each in a way I have not experienced before.

Overall, I feel I performed excellently while interning at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum.  The internship I chose was for six credit hours, which meant that I had to work a minimum of 252 hours over the summer.  I have now completed 267 hours as of today.  Based on my performance over the summer, I would grade myself as “excellent” based on my performance, motivation, and output while at the museum.  I am sure that my supervisor will concur.

Internship at Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum- Week 6 (June 18, 2018 Thru June 22, 2018)

This week involved the addition of new equipment from Fort Carson’s DRMO office. I also trained some new docents in the proper procedures for opening and closing the museum. Additionally, we researched information for one of the museum’s restoration projects.

I was asked by Rex, on of the member’s of the museum’s restoration team, if I could join him on a trip to Fort Carson, Colorado to procure some new equipment from the Defense Re-utilization and Marketing Office (DRMO).  Museums like the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum often procure equipment, parts, and exhibits from DRMO through auctions.  In our case, we were going to pick-up some recently won propeller service stands from the Fort Carson DRMO office.  Because I hold a Military Retiree Identification Card, we could shorten the amount of time required to gain access to the post to get the equipment.  Once we received the stands, we returned to the museum.  These stands will allow our restoration crews to restore propellers off of the aircraft, or if need be, build new blades, in a much more effective manner than previously had been used.

In the last few weeks, the museum has seen a number of new volunteers join its ranks as docents.  Like any new job, there is a certain amount of training that must be accomplished in order for an organization to operate effectively.  I was tasked with some of the more basic training requirements for some of out new docents.  This meant training them on the routines for opening and closing the museum.  The procedures are fairly simple, but because of the number of monitors, videos, and lights, there are some basic steps that must be followed.  I also trained many of our new docents on the basic orientation speech given to guests when they visit the museum.  Again, a relatively simple procedure, but one that is personally tailored by each docent once they have the basics down.

The last thing of note this week involved some basic research for the museum’s UH-1M Iroquois helicopter gunship restoration.  The sircraft is missing some parts, and so some of us decided to research a few of the parts during downtime.  The primary focus of our research involved the pilot and co-pilot’s gunsites.  These were unique to each position and to the UH-1M as well.  We found the Federal Stock Numbers, which we were then able to convert to the more easily found National Stock Numbers (NSNs).  Using this information, we contacted a number of companies that dealt with Bell Helicopters, and forwarded our findings to the head of restorations and the Curator.

Internship at Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum – Week 5 (11 Jun 2018 Thru 15 Jun 2018)

This week was a return to normal museum operations. Not all aircraft have yet been moved to their final positions, but planning is on-going to determine where those positions will yet be. Several large tour groups came through this week, and I was tasked as a tour guide to assist with these tour groups. In addition to this, I continued my education about some of the museum’s fascinating aircraft.

When large tour groups come through the museum, it is standard practice to divide the group up into smaller, more manageable groups.  One groupd typically begins the tour in Hangar Two, while the other will start in Hangar One.  If there are a large number of children present, sometimes STEM support will be offered by Cork, our personal physicist that runs the museum’s STEM lab for children.

When I am on tour group duty, I normally find myself in Hangar One.  Typically, the tour begins with a background of Pueblo Army Air Base followed by a comparison of the B-29 and the Bleriot XI.  These two aircraft were the pinnacle of technology at the time of their introduction, and they provide a nice comparison of the rate of advancement in aviation technology during the first half of the Twentieth Century.  The tour then continues around the rest of the museum with a brief description of the rest of the aircraft and exhibits.

One aircraft that many people are surprised about is the museum’s Alexander Eaglerock.  It is a biplane produced in the mid-1920s in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Much of the factory where the Eaglerock was produced is still standing on Nevada Blvd, and for a brief period, Alexander was one of the largest producers of aircraft in the world.  The Eaglerock was primarily used as a mail plane, and it was used to deliver mail to remote places of the world – including mining camps high in the Rocky Mountains.  Most visitors to the museum are unaware of Colorado’s history as an aircraft manufacturer, and the Alexander Eaglerock comes as quite a surprise to them.

Internship at Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum – Week 4 (04 June 2018 Thru 08 June 2018)

This week was mostly about getting back into the normal swing of things after the open house event on Saturday, June 2nd. This consisted of moving aircraft back from the flightline, returning rented equipment items, and bringing the museum back in line with its normal appearance.  Tours and normal exhibit maintenance were also part of the week as well.

Several aircraft had been moved onto the flightline of the Pueblo Memorial Airport during the open house.  These included the F8U-1 Crusader and the F-100 Supersabre aircraft which flew during the Vietnam War.  These aircraft were towed to the flightline to be part of a display, along with other aircraft flown in during the open house, for the museum’s guest who were chauffeured out from hangar two by the docents.  Both the Crusader and the Supersabre looked at home on the flightline much as they would have during the 1960s or 1970s.

The F8U-1 Crusader is a U.S. Navy carrier-borne fighter aircraft that first joined the fleet in the 1950s.  It was supersonic-capable, and it was known as the “Last Gunfighter” because of its mostly gun armament in an age where missiles were becoming the norm.  The example at the museum is a very early version that also features a rare drop-down rocket-firing panel that augments the gun armament.  This feature was dropped shortly into aircraft production.

The F-100 was the successor to the F-86 Sabre of Korean War fame.  It was America’s first production fighter aircraft capable of supersonic speeds in level flight, and it mostly served as a fighter-bomber over South Vietnam.  The F-100 provided a great deal of interdiction support against Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army forces in South Vietnam, but it was found too vulnerable to venture into North Vietnamese airspace where it faced enemy fighters and surface to air missiles.

Both of these aircraft were towed back into the museum’s outdoor area, but they were left outside pending the final determination on where the F-15 and F-16 will reside.  Because the F-15 and F-16 will most likely reside inside Hangar Two, it is easier to leave the F8U-1 and F-100 outdoors so that they will not have to be moved later to accommodate the  new arrivals.

Internship at Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum – Week 3 (May 28, 2018 to June 2, 2018)

Much of this week was spent preparing for the open house and dedication ceremony that we are having here at the museum on Saturday, June 2.  In addition to my typical docent activities, I spent some time working with our Aircraft Restoration Team getting our newest acquisitions ready for the ceremony.  These new acquisitions are an F-15C Eagle and an F-16A Fighting Falcon (sometimes also referred to as a Viper).  Both aircraft were restored over the last month and a half, but the finishing touches were being added just before this weekend.

These finishing touches included decaling and adding munitions.  For the F-15C, we began by adding four AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles.  Each missile weighs around 200lbs., and it required three of us levering them into position on the launch rails under each wing.  These launch rails are positioned about 6 to 6 1/2 feet off the ground, so its not an easy task.

Later, we added four AIM-7F Sparrow missiles on the fuselage mounting stations.  These missiles are much larger than the AIM-9Ls, and they weigh a little over 500lbs each.  Lacking the proper loading equipment used by the Air Force, we made do with an engine hoist and some elbow grease to make things happen.  Both the F-15C and the F-16A were decaled in the markings for their respective units as well.

On Saturday, June 2, the dedication ceremony went off without a hitch with both aircrafts’ last pilots present at the ceremony.  Typically I don’t work on Saturdays, but this event was too important to miss.  Admission was free to the museum, and the number of attendees helped raise awareness and the profile of the museum as well as providing additional income in the form of increased gift shop sales and donations.  All and all, it was an eventful week.

Internship at Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum – Week 2 (21 May 2018 Thru 25 May 2018)

Week two of the internship at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum started a little different from the first week.  DJ Armstrong and I were tasked with performing some research on the museum’s collection of aircraft in order to ensure the accuracy of some new placards that were being made for the displays.  The first part of the research began with DJ and I physically climbing onto and into all of the aircraft at the museum in search of data plates to confirm a few things about each aircraft.

The data plates would confirm the aircraft type that it was purported to be.  For example, the museum’s F-104A Starfighter was actually a pre-production YF-104A Starfighter.  That may seem like a minor nomenclature distinction, but in reality, a YF-104A is a much rarer aircraft than the first regular production version F-104A.  The aircraft specifications needed to change just slightly to accurately reflect the corrected version of the aircraft at the museum.

Another aspect that the data plates would confirm were the aircraft’s serial number for Air Force aircraft or Bureau Number for Navy Aircraft.  These numbers are used to track the history of the aircraft through its respective service.  This tells us when and where the plane served, and whether or not it served in a war zone during its career.  The units that the aircraft served with help us to determine which paint and markings to restore the aircraft into for presentation in the museum.

DJ and I found that only 20% of the aircraft at the museum still had their factory data plates, so we were forced to refer to the museum’s data files to analyze the rest of the airframes’ history.  This was accomplished over three days, and we reviewed the material for spelling and grammatical errors as well.  Once complete, the Curator ordered the new placards for the aircraft, and once arrived, they will be em-placed on new stands for each aircraft at the museum.

During the research work for the placards, I was also tasked with my regular docent duties and giving tours.  Sometimes manning concerns would relegate me to running the gift shop on occasion, but this normally did not happen for more than a couple of hours or so.  Next week I look forward to doing some restoration work on the F-15 Eagle and/or the F-16 Fighting Falcon in preparation for the open house event that we will be holding on June 2nd.  The Open House will be on Saturday from 0800-1600.

Internship at Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum – Week 1 (14 May 2018 Thru 18 May 2018)

This week I started my Summer internship at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum located in Pueblo, Colorado.  The internship is for six credit hours, so I will have a significant investment in work at the museum this Summer.  It will take approximately 8 1/2 weeks to meet the minimum hourly requirements to satisfy the internship for six credit hours if I work Monday thru Friday from 1000-1600 daily.  There will be some additional days that I will work on the week-ends from time to time that will also go towards my hourly total as well.

This week began with a re-hash of most of the duties I performed when I volunteered at the museum as a docent prior to the internship.  I performed the opening and closing sequences of hangars one and two which includes turning on exhibit monitors and videos and unlocking doors before visitors arrive at the museum.  Once the museum opened, I introduced guests to the museum itself and provided an overview of the facility.  I give a brief history lesson about the Pueblo Army Air Base that existed at the location before the museum and the airport, and then I describe what each hangar contains and perform a quick safety briefing before releasing our guests to peruse the museum at their own pace.

I also acted as tour guide to several larger groups that visited the museum during the week.  I was assigned to hangar one which is primarily dedicated to World War II and earlier aircraft and displays.  I walked the groups to individual aircraft and displays, and then I provided a brief synopsis on the history and pertinent facts about the exhibit’s subject or aircraft.  Children ask a lot of questions, so I have to be prepared for the myriad of questions that come from them about the strangest of subjects.  Overall, it was an interesting week that allowed me to re-familiarize myself with the museum and get updated on new exhibits and aircraft.  I am told that there will be some research work and restoration work for next, so my duties will be expanded beyond the normal duties of a docent.

Work Continues on the Pueblo Army Air Base Scalar

After an eventful week, the group and I are now getting down to the end product of our Scalar.  The final product is due to our professor in Monday, April 30, so we are trying our best to polish the content in order to make what we have done look as professional as possible.  My work has centered on two main areas over the last two days.

The first area has been the chronology of the air base.  I thought that I was done with that particular page, but it turns out there were a couple of problems.  First, I put way too much information in there for a project of this scope.  My professor’s feedback was difficult to take after I had spent so many hours on the research for that particular part of the project, but I will concede that no everyone’s as much a nerd as I am about this stuff.  Therefore I have taken the digital scissors to it considerably, and I have trimmed it down to where it is about a tenth of what it used to be.  I have also expanded on the entries that remained in order to highlight the importance of them for the site’s visitors.

Secondly, I took all of the information I had collected in the chronology about aircraft accidents at PAAB and created a new page dedicated to just that aspect of PAAB’s history.  I felt that the high number of accidents and deaths should be memorialized and remembered, so why not create a separate page in the Scalar to commemorate their sacrifices?  I already had the research done, but it still took me quite a few hours to put together a decent page that coalesced the information into a readable page.  I also pulled in some images of crashed bombers to dress the page up a little, but not I could not find images that were directly associated with PAAB.  I substituted one just so viewers would get an idea of what I was writing about, and I made a notation on the photo that it was not an aircraft from PAAB.

Scalar Work Achieved

Over the course of this weekend, I was able to work a bit on the Scalar project about the Pueblo Army Air Base.  Each member of the group has selected certain pages/subjects of the project on which to concentrate, and two of mine are a chronology of the base and a page on the celebrities that visited the base when it was active during the Second World War.  The chronology was completed, and the celebrity page has been completed for the most part.

The chronology page is a chronological list of events that pertain to Pueblo Army Air Base from its creation in 1942 until its closure in 1947.  Major events are chronicled including arrival and departure of Commanding Officers, accidents and mishaps, major social events, and other major events like the switch from the B-24 as the base’s main training aircraft to the new B-29 in 1945.  This gives a line-by-line approximation of events that occurred during the base’s relatively short lifespan.

The celebrity page talks about visitations from famous celebrities to entertain the troops when the base was active during the Second World War.  Most of these entertainers and celebrities came to the base as part of the USO to help lift morale.  Most were famous actors and singers like Bing Crosby and Albert Dekker, but others were there as part of the training groups at PAAB like Clark Gable.  On the page itself, I provided a brief synopsis along with a little bit of information about what that celebrity would have been known for during the time of their visit.  I hope that viewers will find the information interesting.

Artifact Inspection and Media Acquired

Today DJ, Shannon, and I made another visit to the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum.  This visit proved to be quite beneficial as we uncovered a virtual treasure trove of artifacts and media to use in our Scalar project about the Pueblo Army Air Base.  While there, we also performed some basic cleaning functions for the museum in a quid pro quo in exchange for them allowing us access to their unique displays and artifacts.

DJ and I methodically worked our way through the main display case that contained a myriad of photos, medals, I.D. cards, and other fascinating artifacts from the air base.  We removed each item from the case, and then we cleaned both the items and the case.  Once we were done photographing the artifacts we planned to use in our project, we replaced them all back in the case in the same respective places from which they had come.  In this way, we managed to both perform a service for the museum and obtain some needed media for the Scalar project.  I took around 27 photos, but I have to go through them to determine which are worth keeping and which should be discarded.

Shannon was able to rip a copy of a video about the Pueblo Army Air Base from one of the displays for use in our project.  When I say rip, I don’t mean physically, but rather he was able to copy the video from the DVD that the video was on to his computer.  We would obviously never damage any artifacts in any way.  We plan to feature this video on our Scalar, and I think we will be able to host it on youtube for the viewing pleasure of our site’s visitors.

Until next time, thanks for reading!